By Charles Erickson/For the Chief Herald
PERTH- When the weather was humid and the holiday lights reminded that the calendar was halfway between the good weather last fall and next spring, the temperature was warm like the end of May recently inside Bike Barn Cycles.
As they walked back and forth from the shop, various customers carried on conversations with the owner, Ed Agans. Most of the discussions were about bike gear, bike repair, or riding a bike.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store here,” said Josue Martinez, 22, of Ballston Spa, who had brought a second mountain bike so Agans could do what he did on the first: improve its aesthetics and functioning. “He put new tires, new chain, pedals, pegs and brake levers.”
Florida Town’s Chris Cox stopped as he pulled a mountain bike out of the store. The bike belonged to a friend’s son and Cox had failed in his attempt to fix it.
“I set the derailleur wrong,” Cox explained, “so I asked Ed to do it because he’s better than me.”
Agans opened a store in Perth at 4360 State Highway 30 in late June. The building was previously used as a body shop and has three large roll-up doors, although these have been closed for the winter.
“In April, those doors will open and a bunch of bikes will be outside, and we’ll have a really lively vibe again,” Agans said.
A WINDING ROAD
Agans first opened Bike Barn Cycles in Bennington, Vermont in 1993. The store is named after the converted barn that Agans rented.
“I have a lot of experience on motorcycles,” he said. “I love it. I’m still passionate about it.
In the 1970s and early 80s, Agans’ father was a partner and later sole proprietor of A&G Bikes and Hobbies, which had stores in Albany, Latham and Saratoga Springs. In 1983, when young Ed Agans was around 17, the father gifted the business to his two sons. The brothers refused.
“It seemed like a lot of work for someone just out of high school,” Agans recalled.
Bike Barn Cycles operated in Bennington until 2002. Agans said he decided to close the store because he started living in the Albany area again after he and his wife divorced.
Freed from running a bike shop, Agans started running a Latham swimming pool business. But he was working on the bikes on the sidelines and word of mouth won him a growing following. So in 2010 he reopened Bike Barn Cycles in Cohoes. The second incarnation no longer operated out of a barn but Agans was still a tenant.
In the summer of 2020, Agans said, he was unable to enter into a new lease agreement with the owner of the Cohoes building. The owner wanted to add apartments to the second floor of the Remsen Street structure, which would have consumed much of the store’s available parking spaces.
Agans began looking for a third home for his shop. He spotted an interesting property while driving through Perth. It was the same route his father had used to pilot the Winnebago family to campsites near the great Sacandaga Lake.
The property on State Highway 30, for sale by owner, included two buildings on more than seven acres of land.
“The location is great,” said Agans. “I love the region. I guess the writing was on the wall. There are no negative points. »
He bought the property in November 2020. A body shop continued to rent space there until last April when Agans came in and spent two months preparing the main building to house a bike shop .
Agans had three employees in Cohoes, where one full-time and two part-time technicians worked alongside him. Now he’s the only person on the payroll, but he expects to hire new employees this year.
“Attention to detail is paramount,” Agans said of the characteristics of a good bike tech.
A look around the Agan’s shop reflected his thoughts on the matter. Everything seemed perfectly in place, including parts inventory, new stock, and tools on the owner’s workbench.
“Even a small twist in the wrong direction can send a derailleur into the spokes,” he added.
Cameron Alkinburgh, a high school student from Amsterdam, brought his mountain bike to the store so Agans could install a new crankset. He leaned on a counter and spoke with the owner of the cycling gear. He also mentioned his desire to turn keys in a professional capacity.
“Of course, I’d like to work as a bike technician,” said Alkinburgh, who currently works at a burger joint but will seek employment at a car dealership or bike shop after graduating. “I like being with them and fixing them.”
Beyond increasing the workforce, Agans wants to use part of the Perth property to build a road course for two-wheelers. Such editing, he said, is rare in the bicycle retail industry.
“It would be a test loop for ATVs and hybrids,” he said. “People could try bikes on a trail in an outdoor environment.”
Weather permitting, Agans hopes to begin plotting the course in March.
ALL BIKES ARE WELCOME, LOVED
Bike maintenance brings about 60% of revenue, according to Agans. These jobs include basic services, like $9 to repair an apartment, up to $70 for a tune-up, and $170 for a complete overhaul.
He subscribes to the belief shared by many automotive technicians: regular maintenance is the key to prolonging the life of any wheeled vehicle.
In the store’s service queue was a folding bicycle made by Peugeot nearly 50 years ago. The whitewall tires and large reflectors on the spokes helped identify this bike as being from another era, but it was in remarkable condition.
“Service is how you really build a relationship,” Agans said. “Anyone can sell a bike and get someone out. A higher level of service – that’s what we do. We make sure that the bike works optimally and thus create a loyal customer.
The owner said an additional 10% of revenue came from the sale of parts and accessories, and the remaining 30% of revenue came from the sale of new bikes.
Bike Barn Cycles’ new inventory ranges from $400 to $7,000 for adult bikes and $250 and up for bikes designed for kids. The store’s new rides are more expensive than the bikes typically carried by the big box stores, but Agans is no cycling snob and welcomes all makes and models to the maintenance department.
“I love working on these types of bikes,” he said. “These bikes mean a lot to people. Not everyone can afford a high-end bike.